I would be a bad mum... if I still lived in Germany! Or: differences in traditions and guidelines

(443 Posts)
dodi1978 Tue 25-Mar-14 21:37:17

I am German, but have lived in the UK for 10 years. In fact, I had somehow acquired a husband, a house and a baby at pretty much exactly 10 years after arrived on an Easyjet flight with one suitcase smile. Said baby is now almost eight months old.

But that's not relevant here...

What is relevant is the fact that I am a terrible mum! Yes I am! At least if I am judge myself against German guidelines on weaning.

In the UK, the three rules seem to be:
1. Start around six months of age.
2. Avoid salt and sugar.
3. Don't give honey and nuts (ok, and a couple of other things, but the list is small).

And then, there is of course BLW vs. purees etc.

In Germany, BLW seems to be something that nobody has ever heard of. Even friends who have had babies recently seem to be utterly puzzled when I mentioned that some parents don’t give their baby any purees at all.

I’m doing a mixture of purees and finger food, having the little one eat what we eat whenever possible. But according to German guidance, I seem to have got it wrong, because, apparently, babies should have
-A potato – vegetable – meat – puree at lunchtime
-A milk – cereal – broth in the evening
-And a cereal – fruit broth in the morning

Ahem, fail!!! My pancakes with blueberry compote in the morning (which we only have occasionally, by the way) just don’t pass muster.

There are all kinds of other rules and guidelines as well, e.g. that that you should add rapeseed oil (no olive oil before one year!) to certain foods and how much and, oh yes, no yogurt before 10 months (fail!) etc. etc.

Sometimes, dear MNers, I am glad I am living in the UK! I don’t do well with rigid rules. Even the Pampers website has completely different guidance on weaning, when you look at the UK and the German version.

But this made me think… if you are from another country, or have raised a child in another country, what differences have you noticed in the guidance given and in the practice around birth, food, sleep, toilet training etc. as compared to the UK?

I am just asking this out of interest! It’d be great to hear your stories!

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 08:45:39

Because I was 37 when dd was born no-one actually believed there was any milk in me at all, sour or otherwise and kept saying "but you are giving her bottles as well, aren't you?"

Reader, I had that much milk, it could have been bottled and marketed for yoghurt factories.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 08:47:25

Oh- and most people do carry on breastfeeding for years, but they never ever tell anyone.

Naps are a must until child is about 13 and refuses to have one. Then parents shake their heads sadly and ask why Junior won't go to bed until 3am. Because he's slept for 5 hrs this afternoon you mup.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 08:48:50

One of my favourite WTF moments was in the park with my group of Italian mammy friends after the clocks had changed and there was an hour long (felt like) discussion as to what time one should give the yoghurt now the time was different. At the old 11 o clock, or the new 11 o clock.

riksti Wed 26-Mar-14 08:55:45

Oh yes, napping... It's the same in Estonia. Here it seems most 3-year-olds no longer nap during the day and then go to bed at 7-8 o'clock and sleep for 12 hours. In Estonia 4-year-olds still have a 2-3 hour nap, stay up late and get up early. So the same number of hours of sleep, just differently arranged. Playgrounds are brilliantly empty during the daytime nap, though, so we try to time the playground visits to after lunch whenever we go to Estonia.

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Wed 26-Mar-14 09:04:48

This is fascinating.

keep them coming, this is fascinating stuffgrin

Novia Wed 26-Mar-14 09:10:55

Annoying - posted but it didn't save. My Spanish family think I'm weird because:

- I didn't pierce DDs ears in the hospital at birth.
- Didn't give her a dummy - they pin theirs to the baby's clothes!
- Have a bedtime (7.30) instead of taking her out to the bar til the early hours of the morning in a pushchair.
- Don't let her have chocolate and biscuits for breakfast. Or let them give her sweets and lollipops (she's 11 months old!)
- Make my own baby food instead of giving jars.
- Give her fresh milk instead of UHT. So difficult to get this in Spain!
- Put her outside for all her naps, rain or shine. They are horrified by this and told me: "you English won't put your dogs outside, but you'll leave your babies there!" grin

They are ace though - totally pro BFing and unfazed by doing it publically. They also love children, even airport security guards will ask for a cuddle! grin

YouForgotToCallMePeppa Wed 26-Mar-14 09:18:25

Oh yes, I forgot the clipping the dummy to clothes. Our health insurance company sent us a congratulations on your new baby pack, which included a set of wooden beads with a clip on to attach a dummy to clothing, and our paediatrician gave us another one.

BikeRunSki Wed 26-Mar-14 09:38:15

In the South of France my sister was considered strange for bf beyond a few days, and certainly for doing do for a year.

notaflamingclue Wed 26-Mar-14 09:40:21

Sangria Keep posting! Laughing my tits off here. grin

cory Wed 26-Mar-14 09:54:59

I am Swedish and I found the UK quite rigid.

Some differences I noted:

In Sweden the weaning guidelines were 4-6 months, rather than absolutely no solids to pass lips of infant before 6 months.

You could take your child into bed with you if he has a nightmare without instantly outing yourself as the adherent of some special parenting school. (My British HV earnestly tried to convince me that I would be making a rod for my own back and never get them out of there- funnily enough, this doesn't seem to be a problem with my 13yo).

Water and cotton or cloth were more common than chemical wipes.

You could give the occasional bottle without compromising your status as a breastfeeder: those babies don't seem aware that this will make them unable to suckle forever after.

You could take them out in any weather, pouring rain or sub-zero temperatures, because apparently they don't melt.

For an older child (say a 6yo) you can leave them alone in the house for 5 minutes without immediate fear of imaginary SW's snatching them away.

Nobody expects you to cook two dinners, one for the children and one for the adults.

As a parent, you get to decide when they are mature enough to start school (at 6 or 7).

It is perfectly reasonable to expect a 10yo to go to the shops for you.

It is also reasonable to expect your child to eat school dinners without a fuss unless they have allergies and/or religious prohibitions.

dodi1978 Wed 26-Mar-14 09:55:55

Everybody - thank you very much! I was hoping for lots of responses over night :--))

Babieseverywhere - thanks for the DVD tip, that might just add to my Amazon bill!

DrankSangriainthePark - I know the "Wet hair makes you ill" think from my upbringing in Germany! My mum still gets kittens when she sees me with wet hair and I am 36!

Youforgottocallmepappa - oh yes - my parents were shocked (and still are I believe) about the lack of layers DS is wearing, especially at night. Babies seem to be wrapped up so much more warmly in Germany.

Yes, it is interesting to see the differences even within Europe!

Generally, I guess most countries will say they are just following WHO guidelines... but they are interpreting them differently!

TheTerribleBaroness Wed 26-Mar-14 09:57:42

I live in the Netherlands and have no funny stories. sad The Dutch attitude to everything is 'pfft, whatever works for you'.

I have noticed though how different countries have different average size babies - not really that odd if you think about it. Everyone thinks that DS is slightly on the small side here, he's Mr Average in the UK, and considered enormous in southern Spain.

The one thing they all agree on is that no child should have quite that much energy...... grin

chattychattyboomba Wed 26-Mar-14 10:01:33

grin This is fascinating. The only differences I have found between here and Australia (Aussie living in London 8 years now) is that a lot of Australians seem to be very open and pro natural/alternative/Eco options. Although it could just be my social circles. I also know of many other families who are probably less this way inclined and more into set routines, packaged food, modern medicine etc. but I definitely felt a slight 'competitive' level of how natural/alternative/hippy one should be.

Everything is organic, even if you can't afford to pay the rent you have to spend $500 a week on organic groceries and products
Your children MUST wear amber teething beads- until they are at least 10 and no longer teething grin
Bedtime? No! They lay where they fall...when they fall.
Children who bite other children should not be reprimanded. It's their way of crying out for love and besides- your were warned he bites!
If you breast feed your 6 year old you are officially the best mum in the world- extra points for tandem feeding to term with 2 children.
Home birth. Unassisted. Also wins a prize especially if you make your own birth smelling tinctures
Shoes? They ruin your children's feet.
SPF sun lotion has all sorts of nasty chemicals and preservatives. Best make your own out of coconut oil and crushed beetles (exaggeration)...
same goes with immunisation
Home schooling. Nay! 'Unschooling'
Co sleeping
Attachment parenting
The dangers of baby training!!
Peaceful parenting
Baby wearing
Baby lead weaning
Homeopathic remedies
The universe will teach your child natural consequences. No need for things like baby gates, electricity plugs, locks on chemical cupboards.

NB although this does sound cynical I see a lot of benefits in many of these practices

Coveredinweetabix Wed 26-Mar-14 10:11:02

My Spanish friend also had her DC in really hard, rigid leather boots (like old fashioned walking boits) shortly after they started crawling as that gave them more support so they'd be walking sooner. Totally different to the cruisers sold in the UK.
The idea of a Gina style routine was just laughed at. Obviously your child doesn't go to bed at 7pm as you won't be heading out for dinner for at least a couple of hours after that.
One thing I'm always amazed at - and relieved by - is how much cheaper children's things, especially clothes, are in the UK.

Cantremembermyid Wed 26-Mar-14 10:18:27

had two kids in italy and one in uk but I am from another europeancountry.

agree about different weaning foods so just made up my personal weaning schedule and became very relaxed about 'forbidden' foods. smile

italians in general are very afraid of getting ill so they have woollen hats on babies in may and are extremely wary about wet hair or sweating. Fever sends them to a&e in a panic. (yes I am also married to one but i did manage to man him up a bit although I still sigh when he needs to blowdry the kids hair until it almost catches firegrin)

now in the uk I think having dinner at 5/6 and have sleeping kids at 7 is unimaginable! Mine go to sleep at 9 to the utter disbelief of my very english neighbours grin

in general though I had more 'problems' with a difference in generation and approach to children then with a difference in cultural approach iyswim.

WidowWadman Wed 26-Mar-14 10:19:51

The German's are very rules-crazed, the endless threads about what the right order of puree is and how many grams of quark are allowed...

It's like their obsession with taking temperatures rectally, as allegedly it's more precise, because, y'know, that 0.1 C really makes the difference in the decision wheter to shove up a paracetamol suppository up their kid's bum (Seriously, what is it with the anal obsession? Seemed completely normal to me when I grew up in Germany, but after 9 years away, I find it really weird).

CoilRegret Wed 26-Mar-14 10:22:24

My SIL is German.

She is constantly amazed by the difference in our upbringing and experiences of labour, birth and children.

She had first out of hours, so had to pay extra for consultant to get out of bed. No baths for first 6 weeks for new mum, and no sex for ages.

I had a hospital birth and was damn near forced to bath 3 times per day, & encouraged to have sex before 6 week check.

Hers are encouraged to walk alone to kindergarten, mine still aren't allowed at 11 without a written note.

When I went to a birth centre for the last 2, hypnobirthed in water with no consultant present, she was shocked,

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 10:31:31

Children should never ever no not never be shouted at.

Junior can jump the queue for the slide in the park, tearing the clothes of other Juniors in front of him. This does NOT matter. Even the parent of JuniorVictim will smile and agree that "ma sono bambini"

This then translates into later life queue jumping where, should you ever tell anyone off (in my case about 10 times a day) you are the one who gets tutted at while they all go "fancy that, telling someone off for robbing your place in the queue".

A controversial one, which I haven't experienced myself, but have on authority from expat Mums in Italy I used to hang out with......(though this one has been denied vigorously by Italian MNers in the north) paediatricians encourage mammies to erm, help their boy children to, erm, pleasure themselves, until such time as they learn to do it themselves. and then they wonder why the umbilical is never cut between Italian man and his mammy

barnet Wed 26-Mar-14 10:32:08

Norway: the kids can ski and use a whittling knife before they are potty trained. (Normally get out of nappies at 3.5yrs.
They walk home from school by themselves before they are fluent readers. (walk home from 6-7yrs, which is the 1st year of school)

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 10:32:46

When my American friend thought her son had meningitis (he didn't thankfully) she took him to A and E and was really really shouted at for knowing the word. 3rd degree interrogation "who has told you that word?" "how do you know the symptoms?"

Bonsoir Wed 26-Mar-14 10:34:44

dodi1978 - I am English living in France and encountered many conflicting child raising rules when my DD was little (fewer now that she is older - or maybe I have just made my own decisions now!).

FWIW, I think the UK is extremely unreliable when it comes to weaning. Good advice and practices on many things, but not on weaning.

<dons hard hat>

Cantremembermyid Wed 26-Mar-14 10:40:30

dranksangria
no italian doctor ever told me to touch in any way my ds' bits!
however I know that my mil's generation was told to 'open' the penis for cleaning purposes. I am very happy that that's no longer the advise and they now just wait until the foreskin slides open naturally and the child cleans himself. grin

Bonsoir Wed 26-Mar-14 10:41:22

Sangria - you are hilarious! I have a friend here in Paris who is from Southern Italy and I know, from frequenting her for a long, long time, that she doesn't dare admit to a zillion mad mamma practices that the vast majority of Parisian expat mummies would find positively medieval grin

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 26-Mar-14 10:44:16

I think that must be where the origin of it lies, can'tremember. But I was on an expat forum back in the day and all the mums-of-boys had been told to fiddle until ejaculation. shock

I don't want to come across as nasty about my adopted country- I still think, bonkers rules and all, it is still a wonderful place to be bringing up a child otherwise I'd have shipped out and left 'em to it years ago

There are just so many mad rules that there don't seem to be in the UK.

Oh, and their bums are clean enough to eat your dinner off, with all their intimate washes etc, but you sniff their hair and their pits. Minging. Seemingly as long as your arse is antibacterial-wiped every hour, all is well in the world.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now